Eastern Red Cedar – February 2017 Plant of the Month

By Quadell at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1685290

By Quadell at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1685290

by Ann Farnham, LLA

We miss the foliage of our beautiful deciduous trees at this time of the year and look at our evergreens with more respect: the pines, hollies, firs, spruces, cedars and junipers stand out.

Perhaps one of the least appreciated of the needled evergreens is our native (to 37 states) Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana. It is very hardy, withstanding all sorts of conditions, (rocky or clay soil, drought, wet areas, deer, erosion, air pollution) and spreads readily by birds and mammals disseminating the easy-germinating, tasty seeds everywhere.

This tree has many present day uses. The fragrant wood repels moths so is used to line closets and chests; the heartwood is rot resistant and is popular for shingles, furniture and fencing; wind breaks; hedges; foundation plants; perfumes; a flavoring for gin; and medicinal applications. Prior to the 1940s it was the wood used in pencils. Years ago it was a favorite for building log cabins and coffins. It is used now, especially in the South, as a Christmas tree.

Van Cotter, one of the Ewing Environmental Commission’s early members, said, “My wife and I would tie ropes to both ends of a red cedar tree and pull it up and down the chimney of our Virginia home, with me on the roof and her by the fireplace. It did a good job of cleaning the chimney.”

Our native Americans used Red Cedar as an antiseptic, for rheumatism relief, childbirth recovery, coughs, intestinal worms, canker sores and to help cure mumps. We know now that it can be toxic in inappropriate doses.

Wildlife also loves Red Cedar. It provides year- round dense shelter and the blue-grey, succulent berries seem irresistible. Cedar Waxwings were named for this favorite food ( juniper is not a true cedar, however) and French traders named the city of Baton Rouge after it: in French, Baton Rouge means “Red Stick”, of which there were many. The bark of the tree is grey to reddish-brown.

This tree can reach 30’ to 60’ in height with a spread of 8’ to 25’, depending on the variety. It is usually broadly conical to columnar with dense, horizontal branching.  Easy to transplant, it prefers a dry to medium, well-drained moist soil, and full sun. The trees are dioecious, meaning that they are either male or female, usually not both. The berries, of course, are borne on the female trees. Foliage is flat, scale-like and prickly.

Eastern Red Cedar

By Famartin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The biggest Red Cedar problem seems to be Cedar Apple Rust and Bag Worms. The Red Cedar is an alternate host to a serious fungus that affects apple trees; do not plant them near apple or crabapple trees as the fungus is hard to control. Bag worms “bags” can be removed easily from small and few trees, but this should be done as soon as they appear. Bag Worm homes can easily be mistaken for cones; although birds do a good job eating the larvae, and if hand picking does not work, call your Cooperative Extension Service for advice on insecticides and timing.

Most Red Cedars become brown-to rust colored in the winter, losing their normal green color. However, there are many cultivated varieties (cvs) today which retain the green color all winter, such as ‘Corcorcor’, ‘Canaertii’,  ‘Emerald Sentinel’, and ‘Hillspire’, among many others. A wide variety of green tones (grey-green to blue-green) are also available. There are also shrub and groundcover cultivars of Juniperus virginiana  in many garden centers and nurseries.

The Ewing Environmental Commission welcomes suggestions for the Plant of the Month from all Ewing residents.

To calculate the value that trees add to your property, go to treebenefits.com/calculator/.

River Birch – Jan 2017 Plant of the Month

river_birch

By John Phelan (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

by Ann Farnham, LLA

The January  Plant of the Month is an unusually beautiful and useful tree that affords all season interest.

Betula nigra, River Birch, is a fast-growing, medium sized tree which has become popular as a specimen tree or in groups for large residential properties, parks, golf courses, and other situations. Growing to 40’-70’ or more with a slightly smaller spread, this tree is hardy to USDA Zones 4-7, ranging from New Hampshire to southern Minnesota to northern Florida and west to Texas. Ewing is in USDA Zone 6b.

The tree’s habit, when young, is pyramidal, and it can be multi- or single trunked. At maturity the tree becomes rounded.

river_birch_exfoliating_bark

Close up of the beautiful exfoliating bark By Googoo85 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

River Birch has many great assets. It has an exfoliating ( “peely”) bark, which ranges from peach to reddish-orange-brown to salmon-pink and reveals a creamy inner bark where it peels. This makes the tree unusually attractive, especially in the winter after its leaves have dropped.

This tree is low-maintenance, and is the most disease resistant of the Birch family. Unlike other birches which are suited to more northern habitats, River Birch is very tolerant of heat, standing water (it is also drought resistant), and most important, it resists the Bronze Birch Borer, which kills most other birch species in our area and warmer zones. It hosts few diseases or pests. Deer don’t favor it, which is another plus here.

The water tolerance of River Birch makes it very useful for planting along ponds, streams, flood plains and other low areas. It is used frequently to naturalize detention basins as it will tolerate standing water as well as dryness. It is a good tree for bioswales or rain gardens.

The leaves are leathery, lustrous, dark green, 1.5” to 3.5” long and up to 2.4” broad, and diamond shaped. They flutter in the wind, revealing a silvery colored underside. The leaf margins are doubly toothed; in the fall the yellow leaves drop quickly.

The blooms, which appear in April or May, are drooping, brown 3” catkins for the male flowers, and smaller, green, upright catkins for the female. The flowers are wind-pollinated and produce small nutlet-like fruit in the late spring.

River Birch requires a moist, fertile, acid soil with a pH of less than 6.5 and sun, although it will tolerate light shade. They are somewhat sensitive to fall planting and transplanting. Avoid pruning River Birch in the spring when its sap is running; save the chore for late summer and fall.

Native Americans used the boiled sap as a sweetener similar to maple syrup. The wood is too knotty and contorted to be useful commercially.

Three favorite cultivated varieties of River Birch are ‘Cully’ (Heritage ®), ‘Dura Heat’, and ‘Little King’ (Fox Valley ™), a relatively dwarf ( to 15’) variety.

The Ewing Environmental Commission (eec@ewingnj.org) welcomes suggestions for the Plant of the Month from all Ewing residents.

Christmas Trees – December 2016 Tree of the Month

christmastreeby Ann Farnham, LLA

Among the pleasures we enjoy in December is choosing a Christmas tree. The choices are many: the firs (Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir), pines (Scotch, Eastern White), red cedars, and spruce (Colorado Blue, Norway, Concolor). Throughout the United States there are more than 35 different evergreen species grown for the holidays. They are available either cut, in containers, or balled and burlapped.

If you choose to purchase a cut tree, try to prevent the trunk from being exposed to the air for more than three to six hours; it should be put into a container with water as soon as possible. Next, trim off the lowest branches which might interfere with the tree’s staying upright in a stand, and then remove ragged branch tips or unattractive branches. Saw off an inch of the trunk so the tree can absorb water freely, and fasten it to its stand, which should contain plenty of water. The water, especially at first, should be replenished often.

Artificial Christmas trees are often made of PVC, a dangerous chemical; they are not biodegradable, and do not have the wonderful fragrance of a real tree. However, they may be used for many years and are maintenance free.

A live tree, while somewhat more labor intensive to care for, may also be planted in your yard after its holiday use, and enjoyed for years to come. You must do some planning before you take the tree home but it is well worth while.

  1. Determine what spot on your property affords the correct exposure (full sun) and room. Check a good source or the internet to determine how much space your particular species of tree will require when mature.
  2. Dig the hole NOW before the ground freezes. Digging a frozen hole is no fun. Make the hole approximately 2 times the width of what you expect the container or root ball will be. This is important; and do not dig the hole any deeper than the height of the container or root ball. Fill the hole with leaves or mulch as insulation, and cover the hole and the pile of soil with a tarp and more leaves or mulch to avoid freezing. Throw away whatever sod was dug up as you do not want it included in the backfill.

Your live tree should be indoors as briefly as possible; place it at first (in a waterproof tub or container) in a garage or porch to allow it to acclimate to warmer temperatures. You can water it lightly and frequently, or place ice cubes over the root ball to keep the moisture levels up. Spraying the tree with an antidessicant such as Wiltproof will help control moisture loss through the needles.

When the tree is ready for planting, roll it into the hole and orient it so that its best side faces your house or the street. If the hole is too deep, add soil into the bottom and compact it until it is the right depth. Remove as much of the burlap around the root ball as possible; if it is in a container, remove the container. If it is in a wire basket, cut off as much of the basket as you can. Then, begin to backfill with the soil you set aside. Amendments such as peat moss do not need to be added to the soil, and do not fertilize. Water it thoroughly and slowly as you fill the hole; this will push out air pockets and saturate the sides of the hole as well as the back fill.

It is not necessary to stake or guy the tree. Cover the area – to the drip-line- with 2-3” of double-shredded, hardwood bark mulch, keeping the mulch 2” away from the trunk. Water your Christmas tree every day for a week, twice the second week, and then once a week until the ground freezes and your hose becomes useless.

BEST WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR EWING ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSION!

 

Tree of Heaven – September 2016 Plant of the Month (Not!)

Doug Goldman, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Doug Goldman, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

by Ann Farnham, LLA

Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima

“Heaven” in this case does not mean “Heavenly”. On the contrary, this tree is a serious pest; the word “Heaven” is derived from the South Moluccan name Ailanto, which means a tree reaching for the sky.

Ailanthus altissima is native to China, Taiwan, and North Korea. It was first introduced to Europe in the 1740’s and to a Philadelphia gardener in 1784. It has since spread greatly and is now naturalized throughout most of the U.S.A., Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, and Africa. In this country it can be found from USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 8A. This is reportedly the fastest growing tree in the United States, 3’ to 6’ per year, and it is difficult to control.

Why has it spread so successfully? When it was introduced to the U.S.A. it was used widely as a street tree, in spite of its very offensive odor (some compare it to cat urine, or worse), and it thrived because it required no care and people wanted the shade. It tolerates conditions almost impossible for other tress: very poor soils, a vast pH range, drought, and pollution such as sulfur dioxide, high salinity, low phosphorus, coal dust, cement dust, and ozone. In addition, it sends up new growth from cut trunks, resulting in countless, vigorous sprouts; new trees also come up from the underground stems (rhizomes) and the female tree is a prolific seed producer. The achene, the flat, reddish fruit 1 ½” long and ½” wide, is twisted, thin, and flat, containing one seed, and is very easily carried by wind as it spins. It germinates in cracked pavements, walls, disturbed sites, roadsides, and woodlots, crowding out all other vegetation. Underground pipes and sewer lines are frequently damaged by the trees’ roots. Ailanthus contains an allelopathic chemical which inhibits other plants’ growth, and the foliage is mildly toxic to foraging animals. Deer do not eat it, nor do birds and squirrels. The odor from both male and female trees often causes nausea and headaches in humans, and contact can cause skin rash. It is easy to understand why this plant is called “Arboreal riff-raff”. However, it was subject matter in the book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and it is mentioned by William Faulkner in Sanctuary.

Tree of Heaven will live about 50 years. It can reach a height of 40 to 60’, normally spreading to a width 2/3 that size. It has an upright, spreading habit and casts abundant shade. The compound leaves, 8 to 24” long, are arranged alternately on a stem, with 13 to 25 stalked, finely fuzzy, oval leaflets. The new leaves are bronzish-purple and mature to a dark green in summer. They have no fall color. When crushed, the leaves smell like rubber. The bark is light colored grey, with longitudinal, lighter streaks. The female trees usually flower in mid June, with yellow-green flowers arranged in panicles on an 18” to 24” stalk. The female flowers are odorless, but the male flowers stink as mentioned above, a smell which attracts pollinators.

Diseases and pests are minimal and do not create lasting damage.

Eradication is a challenge. A young seed sprout can probably be pulled up, but more mature specimens require cutting, and the resultant sprouts then should be treated with Glyphosate (Roundup) or an equivalent. Salt and vinegar and other homemade concoctions will not do the trick. If this tree appears in your yard, get to work!

Ailanthus has been used for “impossible situations”, such as eroded areas in mine runoff, but it is nonetheless regarded as having no landscape value. Extracts from the tree have been used in folk medicine, primarily by the Chinese, to address baldness, dysentery, mental illness, inflammatory conditions, and malaria, among others. The leaves have been used to grow silkworms and the fine-grained satiny wood can be used for cabinetry, although the uneven trunk texture-from rapid growth- causes cracking during drying. Most people feel that its best use is for firewood.

Do not confuse Ailanthus altissima with Black Walnut, Staghorn Sumac, or Ash, which have similar leaves. We addressed Ash in a recent Plant of the Month article, and will be writing about Staghorn Sumac (a non- invasive native which also grows prolifically on roadsides) and Black Walnut soon.

To learn more about invasive plants, go to nps.gov/plants/alien and www.maipic.org

The Ewing Environmental Commission welcomes suggestions for the Plant of the Month from all Ewing residents.

(Bad) Tree of the Month – March 2016

Rich Mason, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bugwood.org

Rich Mason, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bugwood.org

by Ann Farnham, LLA

Stop! Don’t Plant This Tree – Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)!

At this time of the year we begin to think a lot about what to plant in our gardens in the approaching weeks. Below is a strong suggestion of what NOT to consider.

The Callery Pear enjoyed many years of popularity in the United States before its down-sides were revealed. Today we discourage its use everywhere in this country in spite of varieties that are touted to be insect and disease free, breakage resistant, and fast growing and beautiful (the latter is true).

This tree was imported from China and Vietnam around 1909 to the Arnold Arboretum in Massachusetts and in 1916 enthusiasts developed a variety that was fire-blight resistant. It was thought of as very hardy, very beautiful and ornamental, but the negatives were not recognized until much later. The Callery pear now occurs throughout the Eastern United States, West to Illinois and South to Texas.

The Callery pear is beautiful indeed, but it is extremely brittle (one of the results of very fast growth) and it breaks easily with wind, ice, and snow loads. It is also a very prolific seed bearer and the seeds are dispersed widely by birds and mammals. These seeds have an amazing germination rate, and dense, large thickets of Callery pear are quick to form, out-competing native plants.

The abundant white, five-petal flowers can be almost an inch in diameter, blooming in the spring before the leaves expand. The resulting round fruit, about .37” in diameter, is hard, but becomes soft and tasty with the first frost. The flowers, beautiful as they are, frequently have a disagreeable odor, similar to rotting fish or chlorine.

The summer foliage is deciduous, smooth, dark green, up to 3” long, leathery and glossy, and occur alternately on the stem,. The fall color is bright yellow, orange, red, pink purple and bronze. It is no wonder that the Bradford Callery pear achieved such popularity.

The mature tree size varies from 30’ to 35’ in height and 15’ to 30’ in spread, depending on the variety.

Good substitutes for this tree are Allegheny Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis), Shadbush (Amelanchier arborea), and Shadblow Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis); Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus); Green Hawthorne ( Crataegus viridis) , Thornless cock-spur hawthorn (Crataeguscrus-galli var. inermis), Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum ); or Two-Winged Silverbell ( Halesia diptera), or Carolina Silverbell(Halesia tetraptera). Some varieties of disease resistant crabapple, (Malus) would also be a good choice.

Descriptions and details about these suggested trees can easily be found on the internet and nursery catalogues.

Additional Information

For information on invasive plants in our region, go to Plant Invaders of the Mid Atlantic Natural Areas.

The Ewing Environmental Commission welcomes suggestions for the Tree of the Month from all Ewing residents.

Atlantic White Cedar – February 2016 Tree of the Month

false_cypress_closeupby Ann Farnham, LLA

Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) , also known as False Cypress, is not usually the handsomest specimen that we normally seek out for our gardens. Indeed, in its maturity almost ¾ of its trunk is bare of branches. It will reach 40 to 50’ high and 10-20’ in width. However, this native tree does have some good varieties which bear checking out. The tree is extremely useful.

A needled evergreen, Chamaecyparis thyoides requires very wet conditions: bogs, swamps, low spots, swales, and stream and lake sides. They are ubiquitous throughout the Eastern United States along a narrow band at the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida, forming coastal buffers and stabilizing areas which might otherwise be bare. They require full sun and lower elevations as well as abundant water. Extensively used today in planting detention basins, bioretention swales, low spots in parks and gardens and other perpetually wet places, you will recognize them in many areas in Ewing.

These trees may be confused with Arborvitaes, but they do not share the same type habitat and the foliage and habit are quite different. False Cypress has scaly leaves in a flat, fern-like appearance, which are pointed at the tip. The paired leaves are bluish-green with white margins. The young tree shape is more columnar than Arborvitae. Like Arborvitaes, they are foraged by deer.

false_cypressThe False Cypress produces many spherical, ¼” diameter cones which at first are green to purple and then turn brown. They are prolific seed bearers, producing millions of winged and light-weight seeds per acre which are very easily wind-borne. The seeds can remain viable and dormant for years, so poor conditions at germination time do not affect them. The result is very dense forests of these trees. One of the best known and beautiful stands is the White Cedar Swamp in the Cape Cod National Seashore where one can walk on an interpretive trail through the area.

Acid soils of pH 5.5 or less allow these trees to thrive. They are shallow rooted, however, and will topple in high winds and heavy snow or ice loads so care must be taken in their site selection. They harbor very few insect or disease pests.

The reddish-brown wood is used for fence posts, ties and shingles, and boat construction as it is moisture and decay resistant.

The Ewing Environmental Commission welcomes suggestions for the Tree of the Month from all Ewing residents.

Helpful Tree Links

  • To calculate the economic and ecological benefits of the trees on your property go to treebenefits.com.
  • To estimate the age of a tree, go to mdc.mo.gov

 

Christmas Trees – December Trees of the Month

christmastreeby Ann Farnham, LLA

Among the pleasures we enjoy in December is choosing a Christmas tree. The choices are many: the firs (Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir), pines (Scotch, Eastern White), red cedars, and spruce (Colorado Blue, Norway, Concolor). Throughout the United States there are more than 35 different evergreen species grown for the holidays. They are available either cut, in containers, or balled and burlapped.

If you choose to purchase a cut tree, try to prevent the cut section of the trunk from being exposed to the air for more than three to six hours; it should be put into a container with water as soon as possible. Next, trim off the lowest branches which might interfere with the tree’s staying upright in a stand, and then remove ragged branch tips or unattractive branches. Saw off an inch of the trunk so the tree can absorb water freely, and fasten it to its stand, which should contain plenty of water. The water, especially at first, should be replenished often.

Artificial Christmas trees are often made of PVC, a dangerous chemical, which is not biodegradable, and does not have the wonderful fragrance of a real tree. However, they may be used for many years and are maintenance free.

A live tree, while somewhat more labor intensive to care for, may be planted in your yard after its holiday use, and enjoyed for years to come. You must do some planning before you take the tree home but it is well worth while. 1) Determine what spot on your property affords the correct exposure (full sun) and space. Check a good source or the internet to determine how much space your particular species of tree will require when mature. 2) Dig the hole NOW before the ground freezes. Digging a frozen hole is no fun. Make the hole approximately 2 times the width of what you expect the container or root ball will be. This is important; and do not dig the hole any deeper than the height of the container or root ball. Fill the hole with leaves or mulch as insulation, and cover the hole and the pile of soil with a tarp and more leaves or mulch to avoid freezing. Throw away whatever sod was dug up as you do not want it included in the backfill.

Your live tree should be indoors as briefly as possible; place it at first (in a waterproof tub or container) in a garage or porch to allow it to acclimate to warmer temperatures. Water it lightly and frequently, or place ice cubes over the root ball to keep the moisture levels up. Spraying the tree with an antidessicant such as Wiltproof will help control moisture loss through the needles.

When the tree is ready for planting, roll it into the hole and orient it so that its best side faces your house or the street. If the hole is too deep, add soil into the bottom and compact it until it is the right depth. Remove as much of the burlap around the root ball as possible; if it is in a container, remove the container. If it is in a wire basket, cut off as much of the basket as you can. Then, begin to backfill with the soil you set aside. Water it thoroughly and slowly as you fill the hole; this will push out air pockets and saturate the sides of the hole as well as the back fill.

It is not necessary to stake or guy the tree. Cover the area – to the drip-line- with 2-3” of double-shredded, hardwood bark mulch, keeping the mulch 2” away from the trunk. Water your Christmas tree every day for a week, twice the second week, and then once a week until the ground freezes and your hose becomes useless.

BEST WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR EWING ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSION!

Ash Trees – the November 2015 Tree of the Month

ash_treeby Ann Farnham

Ash trees are ubiquitous in our town because they can grow almost anywhere; they may have been over-planted because of this robustness. They populate our yards, streets, golf courses, parks and woodlands. Exceptional as shade trees, they tolerate all kinds of conditions, and have beautiful fall foliage. These medium–to-fast growing trees range from Nova Scotia and Manitoba in the north and to North Florida and Texas in the south.

There are many species of Ash; our most common are White Ash (Fraxinus americana), and Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). These two species are challenging to differentiate but suffer the same problems shared with all the Ashes: many fungal diseases and insect predation. Importantly, the recently introduced Emerald Ash Borer is emerging as the most serious pest afflicting Ash trees today. The White Ash in its native habitat is primarily a forest tree while Green Ash is mainly a riparian species.

Both species have compound leaves (usually 5 to 7 leaflets per leaf) which measure 8-15” long, arranged opposite each other on a stem. They are dark green in summer and the fall foliage ranges from bright yellow to maroon and deep purple. The bark is grey to grey-brown and mature trees have a furrowed, narrowly ridged diamond shaped texture. The flowers, which appear before the leaves in spring, are inconspicuous. The fruit, known as samaras, are profuse, flat, and measure 1” to 2” long.

Ash wood is dense and white. It is used for baseball bats, furniture, tool handles, and flooring, among other things which require strength and resilience.

emerald_ash_borer

Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

This fine and useful tree, however, seems doomed. The invasive Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is killing ash trees throughout the North America in huge numbers. Many municipalities are taking down trees preventatively and at this time many thousands of these trees have been preemptively cut down or died from the EAB, which seems impossible to eliminate. The EAB was first introduced in Michigan from Asia in 2002 and has now migrated to the east coast. It has been spreading in Pennsylvania for the last few years and last year was found in New Jersey.

Green_ash_killed_by_Emerald_Ash_BorerA recent survey, conducted by Rutgers’ Urban Forestry Program found more than 840 Ash trees growing on Ewing public land within 10’ from sidewalks and trails alone. It is predicted that the Ash tree loss in Ewing will be enormous.

For more information and details about this pest, please check out our Emerald Ash Borer page.

The Ewing Environmental Commission welcomes suggestions for Trees and other Topics from all Ewing residents. To email suggestions or questions email us at eec@ewingnj.org.

To calculate the value that trees add to your property, go to treebenefits.com/calculator.

Sourwood – August Tree of the Month

Oxydendrum arboreum. leaves and flowers, 7/15

Oxydendrum arboreum. leaves and flowers, 7/15

by Ann Farnham, LLA

The tree favored this month by the Ewing Environmental Commission is Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum, one of America’s most beautiful native trees. It is at home in the eastern and southeastern United States in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.  Ewing is located in USDA Zone 6b.

This specimen is located at a residence in the Mountain View neighborhood of Ewing.   Sorrel Tree and Lily of the Valley Tree are two other names by which it is known.

Sourwood, a pyramidal, medium-sized deciduous tree (usually 25 to 30’ in height) with slightly drooping branches has glossy green leaves which turn brilliant scarlet in the fall.
Its bell-shaped, fragrant flowers appear in June through July in this area and are white pendulous clusters which persist for several weeks. Honeybees favor the flowers, from which they make a fine flavored honey.

Sourwood is unusual in that it gives us summer flowering as well as extraordinary fall color.

This fine tree prefers an acid, moist and well-drained soil. It will thrive in full sun or partial shade, although the fall color is best when the tree is located in full sun.
Sourwood attracts few insects or diseases, none of which is serious.

The Ewing Environmental Commission welcomes suggestions for the Tree of the Month from all Ewing residents. Email suggestions or questions to lafarnham@verizon.net.

To calculate the value that trees add to your property, go to treebenefits.com/calculator/

Tree Lilac – July Tree of the Month

by Ann Farnham

treelilacThe beautiful tree (or large shrub) chosen by the Ewing Township Environmental Commission this month is a native of Eastern Asia and was introduced to the United States in 1876. It is hardy to USDA zones 4-7A (Ewing is zone 6b) and now has a range from the northeastern United States to eastern Washington, Oregon, and California south to northern Texas.

Among the trees which bloom in June and July, the Tree Lilac, Syringa reticulata) becomes covered in heavily scented, showy, creamy white flowers in 6-10” panicles which last about two weeks. The leaves are dark green, but develop no fall color. They are arranged opposite on the stems, have an oval shape, and a smooth edge. The bark is reddish-brown. This tree/shrub is available as a single-trunked or multi-trunked plant.

These trees can reach 20-30’ in height, and 15-25’ in spread. The branches are stiff and spreading and become arching with time. The habit is upright.

This is said to be the most trouble-free lilac; it has a few minor diseases or insects to worry about, but the pest list is not short. It is, however, resistant to mildew, scale and borers. A favorable site and good maintenance usually keep trouble under control.

The Tree Lilac prefers loose, well-drained, slightly acid soil, and full sun. Good air circulation and cool summers are helpful, but it is said to be fairly tolerant of air pollution and other adverse conditions. The tree can be “rejuvenated” by being cut to the ground and allowed to start over.

This is a fine specimen tree in the garden, and it is very effective in groups or near buildings. Its relatively small size and medium growth rate have also made it a useful street tree under overhead wires.